TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Ybor City bar owners are complaining that news of the mass shooting that left two people dead and 16 others injured in late October has dramatically hurt their business.
On Tuesday night, the Tampa Police Department is holding a town hall with business owners, bar owners and residents to talk about crime in Ybor City and how to deal with it.
Richard Boom, who owns The Dirty Shame in Ybor, has ran bars in the area for more than 30 years. He’s seen crime issues come and go over the years and says problems have been brewing for some time.
“I hate to say that I was kind of afraid something like this would happen, but I kind of was,” said Boom.
He says many of the issues are caused by underage people in the street and created by bars that close off the sidewalks so they can have customers stand in line before they enter a club.
“So pedestrians have to go around, that cue into the street, so that the police say this is a public safety issue, so that they close the street. Now that the street is closed, now it’s a street party. Now that the street is closed, now it’s a street party and there’s a lot of people who know about this party,” Boom said. “So, they’ll all come into the district, not intending to get into that club, they are down here for the party, grab a slice of pizza and see what happens.”
“There’s a lot of really young, I call ’em kids because I’m old, but there’s a lot of really young kids down here that don’t really have a place down here after a certain time,” Boom added.
Travis Horn has owned businesses in the area, and is the former head of the Ybor Chamber of Commerce.
Horn also said he’s seen a growing problem with young people in the streets who are not old enough to enter nightclubs.
“Well, everyone has known for years that there should be more aggressive policing. I’m a former paratrooper, but when I’ve walked down there over the years, I’ve felt uneasy,” said Horn.
He believes many bar owners try to do the right thing.
“I know there are a lot of great business owners, bar owners, restaurants, who do right and who’ve worked for years to make it a safer environment,” said Horn.
He hopes the Tampa Police Department and business owners can find a solution that works for everyone.
“Ybor is a cultural gem, that we should maintain and we should make sure is there for future generations. From it’s inception it’s been a cultural part of Tampa. Having said that, it hasn’t always been the safest place,” said Horn.